Looking at Twitter yesterday, it looked like Rue McClanahan, erstwhile star of The Golden Girls, had just died. People were losing it over the death of saucy southern belle Blanche Devereaux. But McClanahan didn't die yesterday. She left this earthly existence five years ago.
So why the belated outpouring of inaccurately timed mourning? Are people just being big old dumbos? Was there some sort of communication error? Is dead Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan haunting Twitter?
First, the facts: McClanahan actually died June 3, 2010, following a brain hemorrhage. Her death did not initially cause an uproar on social media. Then, last year, shortly after the anniversary of McClanahan's actual death, people started freaking out about it on Twitter.
Rue McClanahan, RIP. And then there was one. Hold us down, Betty White!
— khary randolph (@kharyrandolph) June 9, 2014
This year, RIP Rue McClanahan! fever has once again gripped a Twitter beside itself with the (five-year-old) loss of television's most sexually profligate elder.
— Lisa Marie Alberico (@GurlPubOwner) June 12, 2015
OK, so what's going on here? There are several theories behind Rue's resurgence:
- "Maybe everyone's Googling 'Golden State Warriors' and going to Golden Girls instead?" - a CBS newscaster suggested this yesterday. No.
- Snopes called the McClanahan Twitter re-death "a prime exemplar of the 'Mandela Effect,'" which is when people have memories that differ from our society's accepted historical timeline, like thinking that Nelson Mandela died in a different year. People who believe in the Mandela Effect think that these strongly-felt memories are proof of parallel universes. (They are also wrong, and cannot accept that they just have a bad memory.)
Both of those are terrible. Better theory:
- As the Washington Post noted last year, McClanahan's inaccurate death rumour was probably started by a few influential Twitter users posting bad information, or people not fully reading tweets. This makes the most sense.
- Rue McClanahan planted the rumour herself; the veil separating life from death is more porous than we had imagined; Rue McClanahan has exerted the force of her eternal soul to regenerate interest in her death on the internet. The outspoken actress and activist is haunting Twitter, using her otherworldly powers to posthumously insert herself back in the national conversation.
McClanahan appeared on A&E's television program Celebrity Ghost Stories in 2009, just a year before she died. Almost as if she was keenly aware of the ways the dead could impact the lives of the living...
McClanahan once wrote then-presidential candidate John Kerry a letter informing him that his pheasant hunting resulted in the loss of her political support. John Kerry remains a relevant professional politician... unfinished business?
In 2014, Vice asked a psychic medium to contact the dead Golden Girls. According to the medium, McClanahan showed her a past life she lived in Egypt. "She very much had a lifetime there. She's telling me this now. That Rue McClanahan can show me her past life in Egypt is really funny to me. It is pretty crazy."
Pretty crazy indeed!
Picture: Kate Knibbs from AP Photo